"The soldiers just came out of the barracks and started blastingaway"

Krishna Lalbiharie umlalbi0 at SPAMcc.UManitoba.CA
Mon Aug 16 14:03:58 MDT 1999



 "The soldiers just came out of the barracks and started blasting away"

  16/08/99
  The Star
  Sean Steele

  An Irishman has told how he escaped with his life as the Indonesian army
went on a shooting rampage on troubled East Timor.

  Sean Steele said he was forced to hide in high grass on a river bank, and
watch helplessly as soldiers less than 20 yards away fired on Timorese
  students.

  One of the students, who was hiding in the trees across the river was
shot dead, Mr Steele said last night after he reached the East Timorese
  capital, Dili.

  INDEPENDENCE

  The 35-year-old freelance journalist is in East Timor as an observer and
to cover the run up to the independence referendum, opposed by
  Indonesians-later this month. He said he was in the village of Viqueque
for the opening of a Timorese student centre when violence broke out. "
  What happened was that the Indonesian army went on a man hunt, they were
shooting to kill," Mr Steel, from Kimmage, Dublin said.

  The centre, intended to raise awareness for the referendum campaign, had
been open only a few hours when the Indonesian militia attacked forcing
  villagers and students to flee. The next day, a crowd moved against the
militia, forcing them back-but also sparking a military offence. " They
  cam  out of the barracks and started blasting away", said Mr Steele. " As
they started shooting, everybody scattered and I jumped down into a river
  with two other guys." He and some friends decided to hide. " We had to
get off the road and saw some people at the back of the cemetery so went
  up to them," he said. " I saw the military going by in a jeep, looking of
people and aiming into people's houses. One stopped and a soldier
  pointed a rifle at me.

  PANIC

  " We panicked, turned and ran, jumping into the river and crouching down
beside the river bank." A number of Timorese fled across the river to
  what hey hoped was safety. " We just crouched down, said Mr Steele. The
military were just above us. We could hear them talking and then they
  opened fire, shooting across to the other side of the river."

  He said the student victim was shot in the forehead. " It was like an
assassination" he said. He said he saw another man's body-shot in the back.













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